Rivka Herzfeld

Being There


That’s a lot of rabbis to come to a consensus about anything.

But of course they did.

Today, apparently, students at Teaneck High School are having a pro-Palestine walk out.

During school hours.

I don’t know how many Jewish people are among the student constituency at Teaneck High.

I don’t know how many Jewish people are among the faculty at Teaneck High.

It actually doesn’t matter.

Because this was the notice that went around like wildfire:

“Teaneck Jewish community gathering at Municipal Green to urge cancellation of pro-Palestine walk out at Teaneck High School. At the urging of many community leaders, including dozens of Teaneck rabbis and heads of school, the Municipal Green will be filled with those opposing the Board of Education’s decision to allow a pro-Palestine walk out at Teaneck High School. The walk out is planned for tomorrow, November 29.”

Tonight there was a rally.

On November 28, 2023.

It was very last minute. Almost the most last minute that you could be.

But, it was totally accessible.

There are curb-cuts everywhere.

A curb cut is a dip in a sidewalk and curb that enables a vehicle to drive to a driveway, garage, parking lot, loading dock or drive-through.

It is designed primarily for pedestrian usage and commonly found in urban areas where pedestrian activity is expected.

But for me, as a motorized wheelchair, aka, scooter user, it is essential to my navigating a space.

It allows for me to ascend to or from a sidewalk without there being too steep of an incline.

We are blessed to live in a country with First Amendment rights.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

One could posit an argument that the pro-Palestine walk out is also expressing that freedom… The difference is, that our meeting tonight was peaceful.

It’s true, there was counter-protesting at the Municipal Green, and I guess that’s alright. They have a right to assemble just as much.

Will the grounds of Teaneck High School ring tomorrow with the truly genocidal chant of from the River to the Sea?

I was just happy that I could be there, to be a presence. To count in these numbers. To show support.

Teaneck High has had the nickname ‘Castle on the Hill’ for a long time, because it kind of looks like a castle… up a pretty steep street.

Oh, it looks like a castle. Even on the inside, it’s got a ton of marble, with nice geometric patterns.

David haMelech (King David) wrote in Psalms 122: “Peace be within your walls and prosperity within your castles.”

Let his words ring true, even for places that only look like castles.

About the Author
Rivka Herzfeld earned an M.A. in Tanach from Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Judaic Studies. She enjoys teaching Tanach to all ages and backgrounds. Rivka is also a respected disability awareness educator. She is personable, easygoing, has a terrific sense of humor, and loves sharing puns. She is passionate about politics, human rights, and “liberty and justice for all.” Rivka is determined to make her voice count.
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